Thursday, September 14, 2006

My own food, I could just about handle

I keep dreaming about the oddly macabre Fat Duck logo, which was everywhere from the thick black wax seal on the cloth-like envelop containing my copy of the menu, to the embossed paper doily for the complimentary chocolates accompanying my coffee. And about the food too, every fucking night I am back there with those dishes, close to them somehow. And the night before I went I had Gordon Ramsay in them too – me and Gordon, casually turning up at Heston’s place in our leather jackets one afternoon for a few beers after service, trying out some of his latest lab work and talking shop.

But waking life goes on. As it did when we crashed back to Earth on Sunday with a stir fry. My own food I could still handle, though, and I just tossed the rest of the bits of veg from Friday’s meal in the wok and fried it in the quarter cup of five-spice pork fat I’d retained. A few noodles and we knocked it back without comment.

Then it was Monday and the Duck helped me through a drab day in the Office before coming home to put myself back into my food with the last tub of thick chicken stock I had in the freezer. I put it to good use in a risotto along with white wine, soaked porcini and some truffle oil at the end. It was the best risotto I have made, that stock warming us from our toes to our heads. Some rocket-watercress leaf thing and rosemary bread.

Don’t forget your fucking good risotto you bastard. It was heavenly stuff, too much of it of course, but heavenly. You make some of the best stocks you have ever tasted and you know how to use then to great effect. So don’t fucking give up now you Cunt. And don’t forget also the perfect noodle stir fry you knocked together for two late at night while tired and overwhelmed by the meal that changed your life.

Starting to get into the idea of Heston’s flavour deconstruction, but find myself getting stuck at the first hurdle: time. As I walk into the Office in the morning I think of things I can do to avoid roasting the leg of lamb in my freezer in the usual, excellent way and serving it with predictable but nicely done veg and loads of it too. So I imagined taking a good cut out of the bastard and simmering it gently in fat for 10 hours before shredding it with two forks and filling a ravioli or something like that with it. This of course would be served next to the more conventionally prepared meat, perhaps with a mint jelly sliding around somewhere, and a block of carrots glazed to taste of a million carrots and some rosemary jus that bears no visual evidence of the green herb, sp to speak.

And then I realized that this is all fantasy: I do not have the time to do a mere tenth of this amount of cooking, even if I could. And I also have to try to keep tea together on these brief post-work evenings, last night for example making use of things the Wife had bought-in like plastic mackerel, watercress, peppers and soft brown buttered bread. Salads and what-not. No matter, though, as everything tasted the same anyway. Mackerel and watercress, and whisky winegums.

But perhaps things are starting to get back to NORMAL, with today’s trip to the farmer’s market bearing fruits de mer in the form of a 2kg bag of small sweet moules which I steamed in a tasty liquor of stock, cream and wine. Leftovers really, and soaked up with the rest of the three-seed bread. But fuck it was good. I paid closer attention than usual to the size of the dice with the shallots and garlic, and used half a tub of nondescript fish stock with properly reduced Sur Lie. Double cream and flat-leafed parsley at the end. Bread coated with creamy butter. Untouchable.

In preparation for the kitchen build this weekend, during which I will have nothing but my cooker in the room, I picked up a joint of beef large enough to kill a man, which I want to cook at 70 degrees for a few days, for the craic. And the stock is running out at last. Need to make some more. Will be the first thing that happens once I get my new kitchen built. Once.

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